An adolescent boy sighs as his mother tries to decide what she wants to drink. She’s heaved her massive pursebag onto the counter. The man behind the counter does his best to mask his agitation. He looks at the unhappy faces waiting in line. His eyes say, “I feel your pain.” He asks if the woman would prefer hot or cold. She doesn’t know. Her son sighs again. Mumbles something that gets his mother’s attention. She faces him, sharpens her gaze. Says, ”Don’t get exasperated with me, young man.”
From his seat by the front window Writerman has a commanding view. The place is a compact bookstore with a deli-style cafe attached. It is nearing noon, Saturday. The cafe is hopping. Bodies impatiently fidgeting. Aside from the magazine rack, the bookstore is more serene. Bodies contentedly lingering.
The adolescent boy’s cheeks are flushed with dejection as he sulks to a table crammed into the corner. At the table his younger brother plays with straws to a secret commentary. Their grandfather keeps their younger sibling amused. As the adolescent boy sits his grandmother places a hand on his shoulder and tries to console him with sweet nothings.
At the book desk a woman with a bright orange sunhat and large sunglasses complains that the book in her hand, a massmarket paperback, is cheaper online.
In line at the cafe a man of the currently cool generation takes a handless call. While his description of partying hard last night is robust and heavily inflected with animated slang, his body is as devoid of gesture as an android.
At the magazine rack someone has dropped their coffee. Reactions range from astonishment to indifference.
To the corner table comes the father, looking a little miffed. “What the heck is going on? I’ve been out there twenty minutes already.”
Grand production of mop and pail at the magazine rack.
Pandemonium at the corner table as the clan prepares to leave. Father: “Didn’t you get me a coffee?” Answered by mother with a steely glare.
The woman wearing the orange sunhat looks around. Covertly. She slips the mmpb into her shopping bag and exits. Confidently.
Things have dialed down a notch in the deli-cafe. There is no longer a line. Tables are opening up. The sound of humans talking has lowered. Conversations have taken new directions. Bickering sessions have come to a temporary hiatus.
The humming drums of normal.
And then the man from behind the counter, after clearing the corner table, loses his balance. Clatter of plates et cetera hitting floor. Poking out from under one of the chairs is the adolescent boy’s mother’s massive pursebag.
Writerman takes a sip of water and packs up. During this last halfhour he wrote:
The government of a country with arctic lands approved the publication of a report that puts the value of its population of polar bears at about $425,000 per head. (Some might be interested to know that it costs considerably less to kill one of these polar bears, bag it, take it home—and the government will only ask for around a grand, plus taxes, to cover applicable licenses and fees.)
If life as we know it is compared to what happens in a washing machine: we’ve been soaked, rinsed and spun; now we’re just waiting to dry, but the machine’s broken, so it’s either getting hung out to dry or being sent thru a mangle.
Man alive, tundra in heart. Man on mission, stars in eyes.
Under the stairs where the suitcases stayed stowed there were shelves for shoeboxes and shelves for tools. There were boxes for records and old clothes and toys, and racks for wine that no one ever drank. A whole universe of trinkets and odd pieces was to be found, but to a lonely only child, none of this stuff held as much appeal as that mysterious set of shutter-like doors. Made of wood and set high on the wall, the doors were fastened together by a rusty lock that had no key. The lonely only child never did discover what hid behind the doors. But to this day he dreams of opening them. And these dreams always take him back, under the stairs where the suitcases stayed stowed.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.